Enter Smart Drugs
L-Theanine and Caffeine, what an incredibly effective duo. A stimulant paired with a Nootropic; it’s a delightful mix.
The real-life NZT Limitless Pill if you will, as any Bradley Cooper fan would be able to imagine.
To those of you who do not get this reference, or haven’t seen this film:
a) Invest the time to watch it.
b) NZT is the pill of dreams. It’s a fictional drug that we just wished existed. It enhances the cognitive abilities of the protagonist, Mr Cooper, far beyond his usual capabilities. It enables him to access the full potential of his brain and transform his life.
But back to reality; our options are not Limitless and as far as I am aware, a pill of this nature does not yet exist.
Instead, we have something far tamer: Theanine and Caffeine.
Paired together, it is a blend that will give you enhanced motivation and, whilst all the while keep you serene and tranquil. It helps to leverage two conflicting goals: being alert, but at the same time, taming any potential anxiety. This is exactly what we are looking for if we want to optimize our performance in the Office.
Have you ever experienced the calm, relaxed and uplifting buzz that a cup of Tea brings? That’ll be the L-Theanine.
Have you ever experienced the crash and jitters that its arch-villain (as I imagine they view one another) Coffee can induce? That’ll be the lack of L-Theanine.
L-Theanine is thus the reason behind the effects of the beverages. It essence, it eases the side effects of unopposed caffeine.
Tea is thus nature’s combination and pairing of the two, and quite frankly – the balance is blissful. But the dose is low and the effects are mild. So mild, that in fact I am highly exaggerating the cognitive enhancement following a brew. And so much so that L-Theanine has been isolated along with a number of other compounds. These are known as natural Nootropics, and yield similar if not better results. These have, in recent times, become widely available in supplemental form.
In the beginning, Nootropics were first utilized by a group at the forefront of health optimisation. Bio-hackers; those who want to increase their performance most fully, who want to ‘hack their brain’. These were the key proponents and consumers of smart drugs. They have been testing compounds in a variety of dosages and combinations for several years; they’re like human Guinea Pigs. Whether or not you believe in the practice known as bio-hacking, you cannot argue that they started a movement.
Cognitive enhancers are starting to gain popularity in the general population across the globe, particularly now in the fitness industry. It is no surprise to read that the international sales of cognition-enhancing supplements exceeded US$1 billion in 2015. And the global demand for these compounds is still growing rapidly.
So if you are not aware of what they are, or are not yet consuming them, what do you need to know?
A Closer Look At Nootropics
For a substance to be defined a Nootropic, it has to align with the following requirements:
1) It is Neuro-protective,
2) Is good for long-term health,
3) Has low to no side effects,
4) Is not habit forming,
5) No tolerance is built,
6) The effects do not wear off over time.
Ultimately, there is no real risk of taking them.
They are gentle, subtle, and the dose builds up in your system over time, in weeks and months.
And then there is the synthetic/natural differentiation within Nootropics:
The former include such substances as: Piracetam, Oxiracetam, Pramiracetam and another bunch of words that sound like gobbledygook.
There is nothing inherently wrong with synthetic, but some of those listed above are not recommended for all individuals. In this way, some require a prescription in certain countries. They cannot be a recommendation from Shirt and Tie Fitness. The inclusion of synthetic in this post is just to make you aware that they exist.
For the general layman and office worker, our focus should be on the latter; the el-naturayels.
So more naturally, amino acids such as: L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, Magnesium, Taurine, Cholines; these can be utilized relatively easily. Each have their own benefits, as can be found with a simple search on Examine.
All-natural Nootropics are typically found in protein rich foods such as Eggs, Meats, Fish, and as previously mentioned in the beginning of this post, Tea.
So put simply, NooTropics are compounds that enhance mental function and aid the brain. But like any compound, it’s all about the dosage. To consume the quantities that have the reported benefits, trying to obtain NooTropics purely from food will not suffice. We are given no other choice than to turn to supplementation.
The scientific literature is starting to discover the benefits of these compounds, with neuroscientists starting to focus heavily on research into their practical uses. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are some of the areas being explored, as well as other diseases of aging.
Any other substance that dramatically changes your state cannot therefore be a Nootropic.
Stimulants are often confused for being Nootropics. But they’re in fact very different:
Take Caffeine – it has cardio-vascular risk, suppresses appetite, is habit forming and is highly addictive.
Nootropics do not change baseline levels of neurotransmitters in the brain in any permanent way. In other words, they work better over a period of time with consistent usage. This is where they differentiate from a stimulant.
So Who Can They Help and How To Supplement?
I am not going to leave you with a vague generalised comment such as “Nootropics are great or “go and try some smart drugs”
If you are contemplating whether they are for you, they are specifically beneficial for those who want to:
Stay sharp and alert,
Sleep better and get better rest,
Be more creative and focused,
Help tolerate emotions, feelings and habits.
If this sounds like you, you should now listen up.
The best specific compounds are the notorious natural gang. They will be of particular interest to push in you in the above direction. The best to include or stack (take several of) would be:
• Alpha GPC
These all sound quite dramatic and obscure, but they can quite easily be found on Amazon as isolated supplements in individual packages. And they’re not too expensive.
Alternatively, they can be consumed as part of a synergistic blend. One company, Kimera Koffee , infuses Nootropics with their Coffee. Giving you the ‘buzz without the crash’, the task of weighing quantities, or finding the balance that works is eradicated.
The 5 Nootropics found above have been trialed and tested, and these are the compounds that are found in smaller quantities in the foodstuffs previously mentioned.
They yield interesting positive effects, and in sufficient dose have been scientifically proven to benefit the following three areas:
• Boosts mental performance
• Enhances memory, mental focus and increases power output.
• Delay cognitive decline due to aging,
• Improves sleep patterns
• Balance anxiety
• Fight oxidative stress,
• Increases cellular energy and reduce fatigue
• Help boost fat metabolization.
• Improves oxygen efficiency
• Promotes red blood cell function and help prevent cholesterol-related damage.
These benefits are impressive if not desired.
So Office Workers rejoice, these could be a fantastic supplement to add to your regimen…
But it is important to note Nootropics are enhancers. They cannot resolve or prevent issues or derangements in the above list, nor should they. They need to work on top of a foundation.
The foundation consists of three pillars:
2) Stress Management
3) Balanced Nutrition
Once this foundation is achieved, from there Nootropics can be added and would yield their benefits.
Sleep, for example, is imperative for attention regulation, memory consolidation, brain cleansing of toxins and brain density resetting which are all key to learning. Simply getting 7/8 hours a night and sticking to a consistent sleeping schedule will help in these areas. It’s about lining up the circadian rhythm with the Earths light and dark cycle. This will at first optimise your cognitive health.
Ultimately, a sleep deprived brain is a depressed brain; as witnessed in brain scans of these two very deviations. So it is imperative that sleep become a focal point in any plan to upgrade their cognition.
Turning to our second pillar, Stress Management. The focus needs to be on two realms, both body and brain. You need to optimise both. The foundational practices found here to enhance cognition include Mediation, Mindfulness (being present in the moment) and suitable exercise. Think walking and making sure that your physical pursuits are below the over-stimulatory stress threshold.
And lastly, Nutrition. Nothing fancy – but a basic whole-foods approach that limits inflammatory foods and works with and for you. One that aligns with your metabolism, activity levels and requirements.
If it doesn’t grow out of the round, fly, or swim, do not eat it. Simples.
It’s all about engaging in desirable behaviors; adopting a perspective of control over our brains and bodies. What you practice is what your body and brain gets better at doing. There’s no excuse for not sleeping well, being anxious, being OCD, having migraines. There are incredibly validated tools, including the methods outlined above, that can prevent these negative outcomes. You can quickly change your brain.
So if you are not rested, you are overworking; you are not being efficient or managing the sweet spot of stress; you need pay attention to the three pillars.
It’s about keeping enough environmental press to stay engaged, but not so much that you are overwhelmed and your performance degrades. This must become a habit, a lifestyle tweak. The supplement, the Nootropic, if applied incorrectly, would only be plaster, a Band-Aid on much wider issues.
So before you reach for the latest supplements, or smart drugs and pills, address these basics first. This way, you will benefit regardless of whether you choose to consume them, or experience increased effectiveness if you do.
Winding This Up
Natural Nootropics offer an effective, cheap and safe route into brain enhancement. These seem particularly useful for Office Workers who depend highly on the effectiveness of this vital organ.
Notwithstanding, our mental performance is a key indicator in our health, fitness and wellness. Any supplement, or ‘drug’, must align with the basic best practices of human physiology.
So if you do decide to go down the supplement route, start with the basics, and start with the dosage small.
To those who do not believe the hype, or choose to live more primitively, swapping out the Coffee for Tea may be a nice alternative.
Or you can always wait for the real life NZT…